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'Doctor Who' taps Ncuti Gatwa to take over iconic title character

Gatwa, best known for his role in Netflix's "Sex Education," is the first Black person to take over the BBC's decadeslong role of the Doctor.
Ncuti Gatwa
Ncuti Gatwa at the Critics Choice Awards in Los Angeles on March 13.Randy Shropshire / Getty Images for Critics Choice Association

The BBC has asked Ncuti Gatwa to make the world a little more sonic with them, tapping Gatwa to be the first Black lead in the "Doctor Who" franchise.

Gatwa, 29, will take over the role from Jodie Whitaker to become the 14th Doctor, the BBC announced Sunday. In a statement published on the show's website, Gatwa said he was "deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared."

 "This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care," he said.

He joins the ranks of actors such as Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith who all traveled space and time in a time machine called the Tardis. 

"Doctor Who" first aired on the BBC in 1963 and went on for about 26 years. It was reincarnated in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston as the leading man.

The show's longevity is in part due to its seamless ability to recast its main character, a Time Lord who is able to regenerate after extreme trauma. Regeneration means the Doctor is able to take on a new face, body and personality with a recasting.

Whitaker took over the role in 2017 from Peter Capaldi, becoming the first woman to play the iconic role in "Doctor Who" history. Gatwa is the first nonwhite person to play the Doctor full-time.

Russell T. Davies, the current showrunner, said he was struck by Gatwa's talent the moment he saw him in auditions.

"Sometimes talent walks through the door and it’s so bright and bold and brilliant, I just stand back in awe and thank my lucky stars," Davies said in a statement. "Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds. It’s an honour to work with him, and a hoot, I can’t wait to get started."

Gatwa is most likely best known for his portrayal of Eric Effiong in Netflix's "Sex Education," playing an openly gay teen whose good humor offset his rather serious best friend, Otis Milburn.

He's earned three nominations from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for the role and won a Scottish BAFTA award for it in 2020.